BHPB gives itself all clear on Iraq wheat shipment

BHP Billiton says an internal review has found that BHP and BHP Petroleum complied with Australian law and United Nations sanctions over a wheat shipment to Iraq.
BHPB gives itself all clear on Iraq wheat shipment BHPB gives itself all clear on Iraq wheat shipment BHPB gives itself all clear on Iraq wheat shipment BHPB gives itself all clear on Iraq wheat shipment BHPB gives itself all clear on Iraq wheat shipment

The diversified resources major today said its review was consistent with the findings of the Cole inquiry into kickbacks paid to Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.

BHPB came under scrutiny at the inquiry after it was revealed wheat exporter AWB recouped about $US5 million ($A6.4 million) debt from the Iraqi government on behalf of AWB, which claimed it was owed the money for a 1996 wheat shipment.

BHPB signed the debt over to related company Tigris Petroleum, which then hired AWB to help recover the money for $500,000.

The Cole Commission yesterday accepted that the original wheat sale was legal.

It also found BHPB was not involved in efforts by AWB and Norman Davidson Kelly’s company Tigris to recover the money by manipulating the oil-for-food scheme.

But it did recommend that prosecutors consider charges against former BHPB executives Charles Stott and Davidson Kelly.

BHPB chief executive Chip Goodyear, who led the internal review, today said its release delivered on the company’s commitment to provide a full and transparent account of the issues.

“The conclusions reached by the internal review were consistent with Commissioner Cole’s findings – that is that BHP and BHP Petroleum complied with Australian law and UN sanctions,” Goodyear said.

“He made no adverse findings against the company.”

Goodyear said he had lived up to his promise when BHPB was first named in the commission hearings, to review all events surrounding the wheat shipment and examine current practices to ensure the company met the highest ethical standards.

“We will continue to improve our processes and practices even in the light of Commissioner Cole’s conclusion that there is no basis for any adverse finding against the company and to that end I have adopted the recommendations form the report,” he said.

The company also said BHP Petroleum would not conduct any new business with Davidson Kelly or any companies associated with him.

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